The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does not publish its list of members over 5,700 members who vote for the Oscar awards. At least one teaches at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Mark Rosenthal, a professor of commnications in Temple’s film department, is also a screenwriter and voting member of the academy for over 20 years.
While many critics contend that the lineup of films this year is weak overall, Rosenthal says there were many great films, albeit sometimes unusual ones. He points to the non-linear “Tree of Life” and the sports movie “Moneyball.”
“There’s a wonderful movie nominated for best original screenplay called ‘A Seperation,'” said Rosenthal. “Which is one of the few times in Academy history that a film written in foriegn language … it’s an Iranian film nominated for Best Screenplay. And it’s as fine a film as the medium has ever done.”
Some critics also have complained that the documentary category does not truly reflect the best in that field. To this, Rosenthal agrees.
Before the arrival of home video and digital downloads, documentary films were not widely seen, and few Academy members were qualified to give opinions on them.
“So they created a rule where people had to come by the Academy and sign in, and show that they’ve seen all the films,” said Rosenthal. “But since the transition to DVDs and downloads, they’ve stayed that way.”
“Some people feel the documentary branch is trying to protect itself, because they all knew each other and nominated each other. Because in the documentary world, if you get an Academy Award nomination it’s easier to raise funds for your next film.”
Case in point: “The Interrupters,” a documentary about an inner-city organization that intercepts street gang tension before it escalates to violence. Though widely praised, it wasn’t even short-listed. Rosenthal calls the documentary branch of the Academy Awards “scandalous.”